Progress Towards Haptic Suits

On this blog I’ve written about haptic suits before. Particularly, I think that people will use them for cybersex with bots and other people as soon as they are technologically possible. They’ll make martial arts less painful by lowering the strength of impacts via cyber-fighting. Users of advanced haptic suits be able to engage in martial arts tournaments for as long as their stamina holds out, or participate in online RPGs where magic and virtual swords “exist” and can be felt. As I said in the linked post, “I predict that convincing haptic suits will arrive by 2020.” Haptic suits will never be perfect, though. You can’t genuinely simulate getting hit with 100 lbs of weight if the suit itself doesn’t weigh 100 lbs.

Today I saw a press release on a primitive haptic jacket, that “can enable movie viewers to feel movies through a sense of touch, in an attempt to provide full emotional immersion in a film”. This was presented at the IEEE-sponsored World Haptics Conference 2009, in Salt Lake City. Here’s the program if you’re interested in browsing.

Comments

  1. Tom D

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to find a real person to have sex with?

  2. Stuart

    @Tom D
    For some. I personally could care less about cybersex applications, but if it drives the tech forward (as it always does) then I’m in favour of it.

    Simulating the pressure of being struck by 45.359237kgs (imperial measurements suck) by fiddling with the nerve endings would be far superior to actually being struck by 45.359237kgs. That isn’t really simulating anything, it’s just putting a bow on being hit by a mass. It would also be extraordinarily dangerous for obvious reasons.

    Regarding martial arts, if you are doing them to score points then the limiting factor would be stamina (and strength) in the first place. This isn’t MMA we are talking about, nobody is trying to hospitalise anyone else. So haptics wouldn’t be of particular use in that scenario. Telepresence would be the killer app in sporting scenarios – you could have the Olympics biannually if you wanted to, everyone stays home and still gets to go. You could even institute balancing and remove weight classes by adjusting difficulty levels independently by competitor.

    Ultimately, I think the most likely outcome is a full body Wiimote – physical computer games and porn will be the chief apps. Telepresence if the technology is really good.

  3. Wouldn’t it be easier to talk to my friends IRL than to bother with people on the Internet?

    People like to have a range of experiences available to them.

    Stuart, simulating the nerve endings doesn’t provide actual resistance to the muscles. For that, suit has to actually bend a certain way, and has limited degrees of freedom in doing so.

  4. Tom D

    I’m not sure I buy the analogy, since with one of those suits it’s more like having a pile of wires and circuits and calling that your friend. If you want to use the Internet to get off you can do that very effectively right now without having to invent anything.

  5. Khani

    /me squirms around restlessly.

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